D. E. Larsen, DVM
We stepped out of the gym into the growing darkness of a winter evening. It was a clear sky and no rain in sight.
“We are done early,” I said. “Mom won’t be here for at least a half hour. We may as well start walking and meet her on the edge of town.”
We had just finished basketball practice for the eighth-grade basketball team for Myrtle Crest Junior High. Don Miller, Paul Daniels, and I usually rode home with my mother following practice. Most of the town kids walked home unless the weather was bad.
So tonight, we started with a group of town kids that included Dean Noyes, Bill Brodie, and probably others. The walk went down the street for six or eight blocks to Rotary Park. Bill Brodie left the group there and cut through the park to his home.
We turned to the right at the park and walked past Dean’s house. After Dean left the group, we went by Maple Elementary School.
“Say, something is going on in the school,” Paul said as we walked past it.
“Let’s take a look,” Don said
We walked up the stairs to the front porch and looked through the windows. Maple Street school had been the junior high school until they built Myrtle Crest. It was sort of a Spanish-style building, with a stucco exterior and partially enclosed porches at every outside doorway.
“Just a bunch of old ladies,” Paul said. “It looks like they must be having a fashion show or something.
The gym doors were open to the inner hall, so we had a full view of the gym floor. There were ladies carrying dresses and stuff here and there. The entire gym floor was packed. There must have been fifty or sixty old ladies in there.
As we turned to leave, Paul stopped and set his gym bag down. Paul’s family was well off compared to the rest of ours, and he was the only one with a gym bag.
“I think I have an M-80 in here,” Paul said as he dug through his bag.
Paul stood up, holding a large firecracker in his outstretched hand.
“We had some fireworks for New Year’s eve, and this was left over,” Paul said. “Let’s set it off on the side porch and make those ladies jump.”
“We don’t have any matches,” I said. “Where is a smoker when you need one?”
“I have matches in here somewhere,” Paul said as he dug in his gym bag again. “Here they are.” Paul held up a book of matches.
We went to the side door the went directly into the gym. It was a much smaller, enclosed porch.
We lit the firecracker and ran.
Kaboom! The massive explosion reverberated from the enclosure, much louder than we had expected. The sound and force of the blast were probably enhanced by the enclosed porch.
“Wow! I bet some of those gals wet their pants,” Paul said. We all laughed at the thought of the chaos in the gym following the explosion.
We were still staggering along, laughing at the success of our stunt, when we heard the siren.
“Oh, shit! They called the cops,” Paul said.
We ducked behind a hedge as the cop car roared by with lights flashing and siren blaring.
“Wait till he is out of the car,” Paul said. “Then we can run down the back street.”
“We need to hurry, so we can meet Mom on the bridge,” I said. “Otherwise, she will be driving around town looking for us.
We were in good condition, and to run eight or ten blocks to the bridge was no problem. We had to duck into a couple of backyards as the cop car was crisscrossing the town, looking for whoever set off that explosion.
We made it without being spotted. We were mostly across the river when Mom pulled up.
“You guys are panting,” Mom said. “What did you do, run all the way?”
“Yeah, we got delayed at Dean’s house and didn’t want to miss you,” I said.
Mom went around the block and waited to pull out onto the main street as the police car slowly cruised down the street.
“He looks like he is looking for someone,” Mom said. “I wonder what is going on?”
“It’s hard to say. Anything could happen in this town,” I said.
Link to M-80 on Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-80_(explosive)
Photo by Shivam Patel on Pexels.